Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford bring Squeeze to the Xfinity Center in Mansfield.
Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford bring Squeeze to the Xfinity Center in Mansfield.

The venerable U.K. band Squeeze may seem an odd choice to share a bill with Hall & Oates. After all, their sound is classic British pop, a long way from classic Philly soul.

But now it can be told: The two bands have been friends for decades. And they first connected in Boston, when Squeeze’s two leaders, who were then touring as Difford & Tilbrook, played a sold-out 1984 show at the Paradise. Daryl Hall managed to attend that show incognito and introduced himself afterward.

“We were aware of them as fans,” Squeeze singer/guitarist Glenn Tilbrook said last week. “I always thought they were phenomenal — and we wound up moving into a musical area they’d already been operating in, being big fans of Black music. This tour is feeling like the best fit for us since we toured with Elvis Costello in the early ’80s.” The show hits the Xfinity Center in Mansfield on Thursday.

If fact, the Hall & Oates hit “She’s Gone” was one of a handful of cover songs that Tilbrook released online last year to help fans through the shutdown.

“Everyone knows it was an astounding time, but I also felt lucky. Most of my family is musical, so I gradually involved them in the covers. That gave us some sense of purpose and unity, since we were in such uncharted territory. It’s great to play with your kids and your wife, and that would never have happened if not for lockdown.”

In a normal year they’d probably join Hall & Oates for a song onstage, but that’s looking less likely at the moment. “We’d like to, but I’m not even sure if we’ll get to see them. Everybody is going to be in their little COVID bubble backstage.”

Squeeze has been through numerous lineups since the ’80s, with Tilbrook and singer/lyricist Chris Difford as the two constants. They now have their first ever septet lineup, with new additions in ex-Roots bassist Owen Biddle, Nashville steel guitarist Melvin Duffy and former Dirty Vegas leader (and sometime Boston resident) Steve Smith playing percussion.

“Steve’s a great singer too, and we’re trying to get him to sing more. One of the things I’m proud of with Squeeze is that we always welcome new people in. We’re a little like Fleetwood Mac in that way.”

Since there hasn’t been a new Squeeze album in a few years, they’re pulling out some deep cuts that have seldom or never been played live.

“Chris and I sat down and played through a lot of songs, and we’re doing six that we’ve never done before. One of them is ‘F-Hole’ (from the band’s most beloved album, East Side Story), because we never knew how to do it. That’s a real psychedelic song, influenced by drugs that someone may have taken at some point. We worked really hard on a live arrangement, and it sounds even more psychedelic than it did before.”

The next planned album will be an unusual one: In 2024 Tilbrook and Difford will celebrate 50 years of their songwriting partnership, and they’re planning to revisit some songs they wrote at the very start.

“The record labels always want a story when they work on an album — if the story is just ‘Squeeze made another album,’ they won’t get too excited. But if it’s ‘They’re doing songs that are 50 years old,’ that’s a great story. These songs never got recorded and we know they stand up. They just came from a vague musical idea that Chris and I had when we first got together. So I’d really like to go the whole hog when we get to recording them.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is Tilbrook’s voice, which still has the same choirboy quality it had in 1980. “I’d say luck plays a tremendous part in that. And not doing anything stupid, which can be a little harder.”